08/01/05 3:12 PM ET
Dark clouds hovering over Palmeiro
Public opinion will judge player's sincerity, intentions
Rafael Palmeiro's Suspension
These were statements that had to be made in a situation such as this. It is now up to the court of public opinion to judge his sincerity, and his intentions, for that matter.Palmeiro will now serve a 10-day suspension, under the terms of the drug program, the terms that have been widely criticized as being far too lenient. It is sadly ironic that this occurred in the same summer in which Rafael Palmeiro reached the 3,000-hit mark, the same summer in which his career was reviewed and renewed and found to be, by the weight of the numbers he produced, exceptional. The spotlight was on Rafael Palmeiro then, but it was shining a warm, friendly light. His work had to be measured against that of the truly great. It was like a lifetime achievement award was belatedly coming for this player. This was much bigger than even the Viagra ads. Now, the spotlight that will be shining on Rafael Palmeiro will be simply harsh and unforgiving. Palmeiro is the biggest "name" thus far to have been caught and publicized under baseball's new testing program. This is a distinction you really don't want to have. The question with Rafael Palmeiro now is not about his production, his consistency, his durability. The question now is not even whether he used banned performance-enhancing substances. The tests say that he did. The question is whether you choose to believe his explanation; that his use of these substances was unintentional. How you answer that question determines your view of his legacy. At the moment, the very best thing you can objectively say is that his previously wonderful body of work has been placed under a cloud. And unintentionally or not, he put the cloud there himself.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.